Category Archives: Missiles & Guided Weapons

Missile for the Tiger

French Minister for the Armed Forces Florence Parly has announced that MBDA is to develop the Future Tactical Air-to-Surface Missile (MAST-F) program as the main French Army air to ground armament for the Tiger combat helicopter.

MAST-F
MBDA to develop the combat missile for the Tiger helicopter

MBDA was selected after proposing to the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA – French Procurement Agency) its MHT/MLP concept (Missile Haut de Trame/Missile Longue Portée – high tier missile/long-range mobile missile) that builds on the technologies of the mid-range Missile Moyenne Portée (MMP), the first 5th generation land combat missile to enter service around the world. Its modular architecture enables easy integration of the MHT/MLP onto a variety of land or air combat platforms in addition to the Tiger.

The MHT/MLP is characterised by its high operational effectiveness. Weighing 20% less than other missiles in its category provides a weight saving of nearly 100 kg/220 lbs. for the Tiger helicopter, which can carry up to eight missiles in combat configuration. Exploiting this weight saving increases the Tiger’s fuel capacity and so its combat endurance, with a significant gain in «Playtime».

The MHT/MLP has a range of over 8 km/5 miles, even when fired from a stationary platform at low altitude. Its multi-effect warhead can handle a wide variety of targets, from modern battle tanks to hardened combat infrastructure. The MHT/MLP performs day or night, including in Beyond-Line-Of-Sight (BLOS) mode, with a two-way data link that sends images from the missile’s high-resolution visible and infrared optronic seeker back to the operator. The crew of the Tiger can use this imagery to choose the missile’s point of impact or to select a new target in flight, making the weapon suitable for fluid battlefield situations.

Commenting on the launch of the programme, MBDA CEO Eric Béranger declared: «The MHT/MLP missile combines new technologies, developed with the support of the DGA, with the tried and tested components of the MMP, making it an effector at the forefront of today’s tactical land combat missiles. It offers a flexibility of use unmatched in today’s armed forces, while minimising development risks. And with its all-European design authority, the MHT/MLP programme will fully contribute to the strategic autonomy objectives set by France and the European Union».

«With nearly 350 jobs per year over the next five years and, ultimately, around 250 annual jobs in France during the first 10 years of its production, the development and production of this new missile will help maintain of the national industrial and technological base, and in particular in the Centre region», he added.

Officially handed over

National/Norwegian Advanced Surface to Air Missile System (NASAMS) medium-range air defence systems has been officially handed over to the Lithuanian Armed Forces. Representatives of the National Defence System and Kongsberg, Norwegian manufacturer of NASAMS, signed a document certifying good testing results of the system on October 30 at the Lithuanian Armed Forces Air Defence Battalion. On that moment Lithuania became a full-fledged owner of the systems that had been delivered to the Air Defence Battalion from Norway in the summer this year.

NASAMS
NASAMS medium-range air defence system officially handed over to the Lithuanian Armed Forces

«Guarded airspace is among the most critical enablers for Allies to deploy into the region if such a necessity arises», Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis says. «We have acquired a fully assembled and integrated mid-range air defence capability, something we were in need and short of so far, in NASAMS. This, to a degree, fills one of the worst gaps in national defence – airspace security».

Minister also points out the excellent synergy among the Lithuanian and the Norwegian Defence Ministries, the Lithuanian Air Force and Kongsberg that has enabled the implementation of such a critical project within the set timeline and financial limits.

«Arrival of the system enhances Lithuania’s airspace defence and further strengthens deterrence. When we link together all the components of collective defence, we get the good result that makes potential adversaries think twice on their intents and gives more security and discretion to us», Chief of Defence of Lithuania Lieutenant General Valdemaras Rupšys underscores.

NASAMS is the most widely used medium-range air defence system across NATO. Lithuania has acquired the latest, third generation system (NASAMS 3) which is still used by the manufacturer, Norway, only.

NASAMS 3 comprises command post fire distribution centres, missile canister launchers, communications equipment, etc. The procurement has been coupled with upgrading of the short-range air defence systems RBS-70 in possession of the Lithuanian Armed Forces – the two systems will be integrated into the overall Lithuanian air defence shield.

Specialized staff began training to operate the new acquisition back in late 2019, in Norway, using training methodology and programmes developed by the Norwegian Armed Forces and Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace. Later the training was continued in Lithuania – Norwegian experts and Lithuanian military have been working on it at the Air Defence Battalion. Staff training is planned to be completed and integration of the Lithuanian NASAMS into the NATO Integrated Air Defence System begun by 2021.

The MoD Work Group analysed mid-range air defence systems available on the market to implement the NASAMS procurement project. Potential procurements were assessed according to such criteria as efficiency, compatibility with the systems used by other NATO allies, maintenance and repair costs, timetable of delivery, etc. NASAMS was selected as the closest choice to the formulated requirement and criteria.

The contract on procuring the NASAMS mid-range air defence system for the Lithuanian Air Force was signed on 26 October 2017 by the Ministry of National Defence and Norway’s Kongsberg, NASAMS manufacturer. The contract has made the cooperation between Lithuania and Norway stronger, which is very important to the security of the Baltic region allies in the current geopolitical context.

Harpoon Missiles

The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (TECRO) of up to one hundred (100) Harpoon Coastal Defense Systems (HCDS) and related equipment for an estimated cost of $2.37 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale today.

RGM-84L-4 Harpoon Block II
By approving the sale of 500 Harpoon anti-ship missiles to Taiwan, the United States is reinforcing the island’s ability to defend itself against an amphibious invasion, but is also ratcheting up the ongoing war of words with China (US Navy photo)

TECRO has requested to buy up to one hundred (100) Harpoon Coastal Defense Systems (HCDS) consisting of up to four hundred (400) RGM-84L-4 Harpoon Block II Surface Launched Missiles; and four (4) RTM-84L-4 Harpoon Block II Exercise Missiles.

Also included are four hundred and eleven (411) containers, one hundred (100) Harpoon Coastal Defense System Launcher Transporter Units, twenty-five (25) radar trucks, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor representatives’ technical assistance, engineering and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics support.

The total estimated program cost is $2.37 billion.

This proposed sale is consistent with U.S. law and policy as expressed in Public Law 96-8.

This proposed sale serves U.S. national, economic, and security interests by supporting the recipient’s continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability. The proposed sale will help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance, economic and progress in the region.

This proposed sale will improve the recipient’s capability to meet current and future threats by providing a flexible solution to augment existing surface and air defenses. The recipient will be able to employ a highly reliable and effective system to counter or deter maritime aggressions, coastal blockades, and amphibious assaults. This capability will easily integrate into existing force infrastructure. The recipient will have no difficulty absorbing these systems into its armed forces.

The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

The principal contractor will be The Boeing Company, St. Louis, Missouri. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.

Implementation of this proposed sale will require the assignment of two (2) U.S. contractor representatives to the recipient for a duration of 8 years to support technical reviews, support, and oversight.

There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.

Naval Strike Missile

The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Romania of Naval Strike Missile (NSM) Coastal Defense Systems (CDS) and related equipment for an estimated cost of $300 million. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale today.

Naval Strike Missile (NSM)
The Naval Strike Missile was developed by Norway’s Kongsberg, and is now being marketed internationally by Raytheon. Romania has been cleared to buy two coastal defense versions with four mobile launchers (Kongsberg photo)

The Government of Romania has requested to buy two (2) Coastal Defense Systems (CDS) consisting of up to ten (10) Link-16 Multifunctional Information Distribution System – Joint Tactical Radio Systems (MIDS-JTRS).

Also included are two Coastal Defense System Fire Distribution Centers; four Mobile Launch Vehicles; Transport Loading Vehicles; Naval Strike Missiles; non-operational Inert Handling/Loading Missile (IHM) to support missile handling and loading/unloading; training missile and equipment spares; associated containers; training and training equipment; publications and technical documentation; spares parts; loading and mobile maintenance support; U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services; and other related elements of logistical and program support.

The estimated total cost is $300 million.

This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a NATO Ally in developing and maintaining a strong and ready self-defense capability. This proposed sale will enhance U.S. national security objectives in the region.

The proposed sale will improve Romania’s capability to meet current and future threats by improving Romania’s maritime defense capabilities in the Black Sea and increasing interoperability with the United States. Romania will use this long-range, precision strike weapon to enhance mission effectiveness, survivability, and NATO interoperability in current and future missions and operations. Romania will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment and support into its armed forces.

The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

The principal U.S. contractor will be Raytheon Missile and Defense, Tucson, AZ. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.

Implementation of the proposed sale will require U.S. Government and contractor personnel to visit Romania on a temporary basis in conjunction with program technical oversight and support requirements, including program and technical reviews, as well as to provide training and maintenance support in country.

There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.

This notice of a potential sale is required by law. The description and dollar value is for the highest estimated quantity and dollar value based on initial requirements. Actual dollar value will be lower depending on final requirements, budget authority, and signed sales agreement(s), if and when concluded.

Air Defence System

On the occasion of the Euronaval-Online exhibition, MBDA announces the commercial launch of its new Vertical Launch (VL) Missile D’interception, de Combat et D’autodéfense (MICA – interception, combat and self-defence missile) New Generation (NG) air defence system.

VL MICA NG
MBDA launches the new VL MICA NG air defence system

The VL MICA NG system is based on the integration into the existing VL MICA system of the MICA NG anti-air missile, which began development in 2018 primarily to equip France’s Rafale combat aircraft. The VL MICA system family – now adopted, in its naval or land-based versions, by 15 armed forces around the world – will consequently benefit from enhanced potential to counter future threats.

About the VL MICA NG system, MBDA CEO Eric Béranger declared: «After two years of development on the New Generation MICA missile, we have acquired a deep understanding of the performance of this brand new air-to-air missile which allows us, in full confidence, to market its integration into VL MICA ground-to-air or surface-to-air defence systems. The total compatibility between the two generations of missile will allow armed forces to combine them with their existing systems, thus maximizing their return on investments».

Thanks to the technological innovations it incorporates, the new VL MICA NG system offers improved capabilities to handle atypical targets (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles [UAVs], small aircraft) as well as future threats, characterised by increasingly low observable infrared and radio frequency signatures. Additionally, it will be able to intercept at longer distances the ‘conventional’ targets (aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles and anti-ship missiles) already addressed by the current VL MICA system.

The dimensions of the MICA NG munition remain unchanged, allowing it to be integrated into existing VL MICA launchers. The existing missile data link mechanisms are compatible with the increased kinematic performance of the missiles, enabling current VL MICA systems to be upgraded to VL MICA NG standard by simple software updates.

 

About the MICA NG missile

Based on an entirely new design, the MICA NG missile inherits the external dimensions and unique concept that has made the MICA anti-air missile such a success for a quarter of a century. This concept means MICA features either an infrared or a radio frequency seeker on the same common missile body, allowing the operator, at the moment of firing, to select the best option to respond to the tactics adopted by the adversary.

On the MICA NG, a new infrared seeker based on a matrix sensor will provide increased sensitivity, while a new radio frequency seeker with an Active Electronically Scanned Antenna (AESA) will allow for smart detection strategies. The lower volume of electronic components will enable the MICA NG to carry a larger load of propellant, significantly extending its range, and the new dual-pulse rocket motor will provide additional energy to the missile at the end of its flight, improving its manoeuvrability and its ability to intercept targets at long range. In surface-to-air mode, the MICA NG will be able to intercept targets over 40 km/25 miles away. Finally, maintenance and ownership costs will be significantly reduced thanks to internal sensors that will monitor the status of the munition throughout its life cycle.

The MICA NG missile will be available in series production from 2026.

Operational Fires

As Lockheed Martin continues the work with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to advance the unique hypersonic technologies of its Operational Fires (OpFires) program, the company today announced its initial round of key subcontractors on the program. OpFires seeks to develop and demonstrate an innovative ground-launched system to enable a hypersonic boost glide missile system to penetrate modern enemy air defenses and rapidly engage time-sensitive targets.

OpFires program
Lockheed Martin’s OpFires team is developing a missile with a unique throttleable booster that can defeat targets across the medium-range spectrum

Joining prime contractor Lockheed Martin on the OpFires Phase Three Weapon System Integration program are Northrop Grumman, Dynetics, and Electronic Concepts & Engineering, Inc (ECE).

«The engineering innovation required to deliver this maneuverable and rapid-response solution demands a best-of-industry team», said Steven Botwinik, director of Tactical and Strike Missiles Advanced Programs. «OpFires and its unique throttleable booster make it a versatile platform to launch a variety of payloads over varied ranges and for this reason, OpFires is well-suited to address the Army’s Medium Range Strategic Fires needs».

Specifically, the new subcontractors on the program will support the technology development in the following ways:

  • Northrop Grumman in Elkton, Md., will develop the stage one solid rocket motor;
  • Dynetics in Huntsville, Ala., will deliver the cannister, all up round and fins, and support integration and test; and
  • ECE, a small business based in Holland, Ohio, will provide the booster power pyro module.

Lockheed Martin has played a significant role in the research, development and demonstration of hypersonic technologies for more than 30 years. The corporation has made significant investments in key technology and capability development – including hypersonic strike capabilities and defense systems against emerging hypersonic threats and is supporting all branches of the U.S. military on these hypersonic programs.

The company expects to complete its first live fire in 2021.

Bulgaria selects AMRAAM

Bulgaria became the world’s 40th Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) user when the European nation recently signed an agreement to purchase the missile from the U.S. Air Force through a foreign military sales contract. This letter of offer and acceptance allows the U.S. government to begin contract negotiations with Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a Raytheon Technologies business, for production of an undisclosed quantity of missiles.

AMRAAM
Bulgaria selects AMRAAM missile to bolster its air-to-air defense capabilities

«AMRAAM delivers unprecedented air superiority to pilots, giving them a decisive advantage in the sky», said Paul Ferraro, vice president of Raytheon Missiles & Defense’s Air Power business. «The weapon will significantly improve Bulgaria’s ability to defend against advanced threats».

The AMRAAM is a dual-role missile, offering operational flexibility in air-to-air and surface-launch engagements. In the air-to-air role, the weapon’s advanced active guidance section and mature seeker design allow it to quickly find targets in the most challenging environments.

AMRAAM is the world’s most sophisticated, combat-proven air dominance missile. With more than 30 years of design, upgrades, testing and production, the AIM-120 missile continues to meet warfighter requirements in all weather and beyond visual range engagements. Its capabilities have been fully demonstrated in over 4,800 test shots and more than 10 air-to-air combat victories.

Strategic Deterrent

Northrop Grumman Corporation (NOC) was selected by the U.S. Air Force to modernize the nation’s aging InterContinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) system under a $13.3 billion contract awarded on September 08, 2020 for the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase of the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) program.

Northrop Grumman will lead a nationwide team to deliver the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program

The Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center announced that the effort will span 8.5 years and include weapon system design, qualification, test and evaluation and nuclear certification. Upon successful completion of EMD, the Northrop Grumman team will begin producing and delivering a modern and fully integrated weapon system to meet the Air Force schedule of initial operational capability by 2029.

«Our nation is facing a rapidly evolving threat environment and protecting our citizens with a modern strategic deterrent capability has never been more critical», said Kathy Warden, chairman, chief executive officer and president, Northrop Grumman. «With more than 65 years of technical leadership on every ICBM system, our nationwide team is honored and committed to continuing our partnership with the U.S. Air Force to deliver a safe, secure and effective system that will contribute to global stability for years to come».

The EMD award follows a highly successful three-year Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction (TMRR) phase-one effort under the GBSD competition. The Northrop Grumman team has demonstrated innovation and agility by applying a digital engineering approach and has achieved all TMRR design review milestones on time and on cost.

Work on the program will be performed at the Northrop Grumman GBSD facilities in Roy and Promontory, Utah, as well as other key Northrop Grumman sites across the U.S. that include Huntsville and Montgomery, Alabama; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Bellevue, Nebraska; San Diego and Woodland Hills, California; Chandler, Arizona; Annapolis Junction, Maryland; and at our nationwide team locations across the country.

The Northrop Grumman GBSD team includes Aerojet Rocketdyne, Bechtel, Clark Construction, Collins Aerospace, General Dynamics, HDT Global, Honeywell, Kratos Defense and Security Solutions, L3Harris, Lockheed Martin, Textron Systems, as well as hundreds of small and medium-sized companies from across the defense, engineering and construction industries. Overall, the GBSD program will involve over 10,000 people across the U.S. directly working on this vital national security program. For more information, please visit: www.northropgrumman.com/gbsd.

Northrop Grumman solves the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the ever evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Our 90,000 employees define possible every day using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products and services.

Gray Wolf

The 416th Flight Test Squadron recently completed a round of tests of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s «Gray Wolf» prototype cruise missile at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

Members from the Gray Wolf test team and 416th Flight Test Squadron, pose for a photo following a captive-carry flight test of the Gray Wolf cruise missile prototype at Edwards Air Force Base, California, June 9 (Air Force photo by Kyle Brazier)

Gray Wolf is a DoD-directed prototype production and demonstration of low-cost, subsonic and networked collaborative cruise missiles. The missiles are designed to launch in a swarm to target enemy integrated air defense threats.

«Gray Wolf is a science & technology demonstration effort, intended as a proof of concept program», said Conor Most, 416th FLTS Flight Test Engineer. «AFRL serves as the System Program Office (SPO) for the weapon and developed the original request for proposal».

The missiles offer a stand-off solution for the warfighter through its variable payload capability. Earlier this year, the Gray Wolf’s TDI-J85 engine completed a successful flight test campaign culminating in multiple inflight windmill starts and operation at high altitude.

The program has already reached certain test milestones: Electromagnetic Interference & Compatibility (EMIC) and a «captive carry» flight. A live release test at the Naval Air Station Point Mugu Sea Test Range is scheduled later this summer.

«The EMIC check is ground check to confirm the missile is okay to fly on our specific test aircraft», Most explained. «A captive-carry flight is the first flight with the weapon; the goal is to rehearse the weapon flight profile and gather critical state/environmental data about the weapon».

Most added that the importance of successfully conducting physical tests, as opposed to laboratory-simulated, provides the Gray Wolf team with invaluable critical data.

«Getting the weapon airborne and gathering data is crucial to the development for a new weapon system like this», Most said. «With just one captive carry flight, the team learned more than in weeks or months of laboratory testing. Modeling and simulation go a long way to helping you predict how a new weapon will behave, but they will never replace actually putting the weapon on an aircraft and observing how it actually behaves in a real-world environment».

Conducting physical flight tests is critical to mission success, and the Gray Wolf test team faced challenges amidst COVID-19 restrictions as different portions of the test team were located throughout the country. Besides the test team at Edwards, the Gray Wolf tests included personnel from AFRL, Point Mugu, and others throughout the Air Force Test Center enterprise, namely at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

«Key support from AFRL and AFTC leadership enabled the missions to take place», said Captain Adam Corley, AFRL Gray Wolf Program Manager. «These tests overcame, and were accomplished, during the COVID-19 posture. Collaboration between Eglin, Edwards, and the Point Mugu Sea Range made these flight tests possible. Through close partnership, we were able to fly on the sea range and stream live feeds to Edwards and Eglin control rooms overcoming the travel ban issue and allowing key personnel to participate in the flight tests».

Beyond-Line-Of-Sight

MBDA is joining with 13 partners and subcontractors from 5 countries to develop a new capability based on the MMP missile system (Missile Moyenne Portée, Medium-Range Missile) that will be unique for mounted and dismounted forces.

MBDA’s MMP missile selected to fulfill the European Beyond-Line-Of-Sight battlefield engagement capability

LynkEUs, an MBDA coordinated project, has been selected by the European Commission as part of the new European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP), following consultation with Member States.

LynkEUs is the first technological and industrial contribution to the objectives of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) Beyond Line Of Sight (BLOS) capability project. The BLOS capability project had been approved in November 2018 by the EU Defence Ministers.

The LynkEUs project is managed in close partnership with the French, Belgian and Cypriot armed forces. The project seeks to define an initial operational concept for a European BLOS capability. It will also provide an opportunity to identify and test emerging solutions of potential value for future upgrades to the capability, and will be validated by a test campaign.

The concepts and tests completed for the PESCO BLOS project will contribute to the development of a family of man-on-the loop BLOS missile systems with back image, based on the MMP medium range missile, and under full control of Europe’s defence industry.

Eric Béranger, MBDA CEO, said: «LynkEUs is the first cooperative project in the missile systems field leveraging on the new EU defence instruments, and the first EU defence R&D project to be coordinated by MBDA. It demonstrates our eagerness to cooperate to an ever-greater extent in Europe and to expand our circle of industrial and technological partnerships, particularly with innovative SMEs and European research centres. It also demonstrates our commitment to serve European strategic autonomy and technological sovereignty ambitions».

MBDA and its 10 partners – from Belgium: The Royal Military Academy, John Cockerill Defense, FN Herstal, Thales Belgium, and Xenics; from Cyprus: Aditess, Cyprus Institute, and SignalGenerix; from France: Novadem and Safran; along with the 3 subcontractors: MILREM (from Estonia), DELAIR (from France), and Carmenta (from Sweden) – are now entering the negotiation phase of the grant agreement with the Commission.

This first success at the European level paves the way for further collaborative projects, that will consolidate a European BLOS capability by developing associated functions such as training systems and cooperative engagement. These new projects could be eligible for the future European Defence Fund as early as 2021.